Présentation détaillée du projet
According to WWF, Earth has lost half of its wildlife over the past 40 years. Mammals, birds and amphibians are currently becoming extinct at rates comparable to the previous five mass extinctions. Our environment is under pressure by the growing human population and our increasing demand for resources as we become wealthier. Tens of thousands of species, including 25 per cent of all mammals and 13 per cent of birds, are now threatened with extinction because of over-hunting, poaching, pollution, fragmentation and loss of habitat, arrival of invasive species, climate change, and other human-caused problems. This is not just dramatic for the ecosystem itself, but also for us, humans. Indeed, humans depend for a lot of things on services that different ecosystems are providing us with, such as, pollination, food, photosynthesis, recreation, and many more. Animals play an important role in ecosystems by providing essential services such as regulating insect populations, seed dispersal and act as indicators of general ecosystem health. A loss in biodiversity leads in a substantial loss in ecosystem services and therefore a loss for us.
I'm a freshly graduated bioscience engineer with a major in environmental technology who decided to go on a 6 month wildlife volunteering project focusing on animal and marine conservation in 5 different countries around the world: South Africa, Zambia, Thailand, Indonesia and Australia. I am leaving in November and will spend approximately one month on each project.
South Africa is home to the wonderful Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo) and has one of the world's prime dive locations, Sodwana Bay, with its world-renowned coral reefs. I will start my volunteering work in Sodwana Bay, where I will assist with a number of projects within the marine park, including underwater surveys and data collection on the turtle and ray populations living on the reefs, as well as contributing to global whale shark research through data collection and photographic identification of individual whale sharks.
For my second project I work in the Greater Kruger area to observe the Big 5. I will have the opportunity to be involved in a variety of research initiatives focusing on these key species and other resident game. The majority of the data we gather will support the long-term objectives of wildlife trusts and foundations including The African Lion and Environmental Research Trust and Save the Elephants. I will also assist with data capturing to be shared with relevant researchers and authorities.
Lion populations are estimated to have declined 80-90% since 1975. Therefore, The African Lion & Environmental Research Trust (ALERT) has established a responsible development approach to lion conservation. The African Lion Rehabilitation & Release into the Wild Program aims to create a viable source of lions for reintroduction into areas of Africa where lion populations have declined, or been lost. Captive-born lions are given pre-released training before being bonded into prides and released into fenced, natural reserves. Within these release sites, the pride is able to raise cubs to maturity in a natural setting and free from any human contact. It is these offspring that are intended for release into the wild. This is what I will be doing during my volunteering project in Zambia.
Link to video of the project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJ1lse0vpk8
It is well known that elephants are being used as tourist attractions in Thailand and several other countries. Unfortunately this results in thousands of elephants being abused until they are compliant enough to let people ride them. As a volunteer I will work at an elephant sanctuary 2 hours away from Chiang Mai, where I will take care of old, sick, disabled, previously abused or illegally-owned elephants. Also, increasing awareness and promoting sustainable elephant-friendly tourism will be another goal.
Indonesia is a home to six out of seven of the world's turtle species; as it provides important nesting and foraging grounds, as well as important migration routes at the cross roads of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. However, the populations of the six species of marine turtles are listed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The main threats faced by marine turtles include habitat and nesting site destruction, by-catch, illegal trade and unsustainable exploitation. During my time as a volunteer I will help in the rehabilitation of injured turtles and their release back into the ocean. I will be responsible for nurturing and caring for hatchlings until they are big enough to survive on their own. I will also teach turtle education at local schools.
During my last volunteering project I will work at the Rainforest Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary where I will care for sick, injured or orphaned animals. Also, I will be involved in educating the public about the wildlife, environment and conservation issues.